Cocaine use has become more popular in recent years and is now a staple of some people’s weekend routine. Its rise in use means that addiction to it has become more of an issue. Even those who use it casually may see cocaine negatively affect their life, beyond health issues.
At some point, you might find yourself in a situation where a drug test is required. Though it may have been days since you used cocaine, and the effects have worn off, the drug may still be in your blood. If you are worried about this, then it’s important to know about cocaine in blood, how your body is impacted by the drug and how long it stays in your system.
The Impact of Cocaine on Your Body
Cocaine is a stimulant that, since the 1980s, has become a popular recreational drug – especially used in nightclubs. It most commonly comes in the form of a white powder that is snorted or rubbed into the gums. Crack cocaine is a more dangerous and addictive form of the drug that is smoked.
People take the drug as it makes them feel more energetic, confident and happy. When ingested through the nose, cocaine doesn’t take that long to kick in – between 5 to 30 minutes and the effects are felt for around half an hour.
In the short term, besides making you chattier, cocaine can increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure and body temperature and constrict your blood vessels. It can induce feelings of anxiety and panic, making your heart beat faster – further increasing the risk of a heart attack.
In the long term, cocaine will impact most parts of your body. Your nasal structure may collapse completely, there is a risk of strokes and seizures due to constricted blood vessels not allowing enough oxygen to your brain. The toxicity of cocaine can damage your liver, and you can get tears and ulcers in your stomach.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your Blood?
Your body’s processing of cocaine begins as soon as it enters your bloodstream. The liver is the most important part of the process, metabolising the cocaine down into metabolites. These metabolites then go to the urine, hair, saliva and bloodstream, and they are what is picked up by a drug test, long after you’ve taken cocaine.
A chemical in your blood plasma called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) breaks down cocaine into ecgonine methyl ester (EME). Enzymes in your blood and liver then break EME down into the metabolite benzoylecgonine. This metabolite is the main one that drug tests can identify.
Cocaine will stay in your blood for up to 2 days after you have taken the drug. A blood drug test has one of the shortest detection times and is more invasive, so a urine test is the most commonly used type of test.
Common Factors That Affect How Long Cocaine Stays in Your Blood
There are several factors, both long and short-term, that affect how long cocaine stays in your blood.
The Amount You Take
The more cocaine you take means that your body has to work harder to metabolise it. As it becomes less efficient in the metabolisation process, the drug lingers in your blood longer – meaning it can be detected by a test after a longer period than normal.
History With Drug
If you have a cocaine addiction, then this will affect how long it stays in your blood. The build-up of toxins in your liver and other organs means it takes longer for your body to process cocaine, metabolising it at a slower rate.
If the cocaine you take is purer, that has a greater effect on your body. It will take you longer to get the drug out of your system.
Your age, overall health, weight and gender will all affect how long cocaine stays in your blood.
What Happens After Cocaine Leaves Your System
Getting cocaine out of your system may not be the end of your problems. As stated above, cocaine can have lasting effects on your health.
If you have an addiction and stop taking the drug as part of a cocaine detox, you will begin to go through withdrawal. This process occurs as cocaine increases the amount of dopamine in your brain, bringing euphoric effects. Soon you need to keep using cocaine to reach normal dopamine level amounts, and without the drug, symptoms spring up.
Withdrawal symptoms will come within hours of the last time you took cocaine. There are many symptoms but the most common ones are fatigue, depression, anxiety, cravings, paranoia, change in sleeping patterns and increased agitation.
The withdrawal process can last weeks, with physical symptoms normally fading after a month or so. However, mental symptoms such as cravings and anxiety may persist for months afterwards.
If your body is lucky enough to recover from any physical damage cocaine has done, it is the mental side that the drug may still affect. Even long after cocaine has left your system, you may be depressed and suffer from other mental health issues. Cocaine could have been the cause of you losing your job, breaking relationships and causing financial problems.
Cocaine may longer be in your blood, but the potential lasting effects can be difficult to overcome.
Tips for Staying Sober After Cocaine Has Left Your Blood
Getting cocaine out of your system is one thing. Keeping it out long-term is another journey entirely. There are things you can do to help make the journey easier.
- Self care – If you are going through detox, it is important to look after your body. Exercising, eating a balanced diet and staying relaxed are all things to focus on when you feel low.
- Reach out to others – Looking after your mental health is as important as your physical self. Addiction and withdrawal can be isolating, so leaning on others will help you see that you are not alone. Close friends and family can keep you on the right path.
- Seek professional help – Sometimes, you can’t go it alone. Cocaine rehabs exist to help people addicted. In a facility with other addicts and cared for, you can gain the tools you need to achieve long-term recovery.
Find Help for Cocaine Addiction Today
After cocaine has stopped affecting you, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t left your blood. With more information on your body processing cocaine, you can hopefully see the damage it can do.